More than 100 officers served warrants on Goleta 13 gangmembers and associates in the first large-scale operation to be conducted by the Sheriff’s Department’s newly formed Gang Unit. Search warrants served at 27 locations on Thursday, June 28, mostly in Goleta, resulted in resulted in 15 arrests. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers made five of those arrests, for immigration violations. The other 10 arrestees were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges ranging from parole and probation violations to narcotics and weapons possession.
Officers seized 11 guns as well as numerous knives. Stabbings and shootings have been a regular feature of Goleta gang life for many years, including the firing of gunshots into an Isla Vista home a couple of months ago, said Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Erik Raney. The gang unit’s dramatic debut indicates that Sheriff Bill Brown is attempting to fulfill a campaign promise to quell gang activity. While dedicated anti-gang divisions of the Sheriff’s department have waxed and waned throughout the years according to changing priorities and needs, Raney said, this new incarnation has more personnel and resources than previous ones. Several months of investigative work preceded Thursday’s sweep, which involved 120 officers from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in Ventura and Santa Barbara.